What Happens When You Check Off the Casual Sex Box on a Dating Site?


My friend, Christan Marashio, also known as Moxie on her blog “And That’s Why You’re Single”, wrote a compelling first-person piece on what happened when she expanded her search on OkCupid to include casual sex.

Of course, the predictable responses rolled in: pervy, skeevy, tone-deaf guys giving their most forthright pitch, to no avail.

What you probably wouldn’t expect as a woman – what I already know as a man – is that just because a man is interested in casual sex doesn’t necessarily mean he’s ONLY interested in casual sex.

Wrote Marashio, “I polled a few men as to why they checked off casual sex. One man said he did so to make clear that sexual compatibility was important to him. Another said he did it so that women would understand that he would not date someone for too long without sex being part of the equation. A different man not only selected casual sex but clipped his profile by telling readers he was currently dating other women. When I asked him about that he told me he wished to avoid meeting women who might develop other expectations.

What you probably wouldn’t expect as a woman – what I already know as a man – is that just because a man is interested in casual sex doesn’t necessarily mean he’s ONLY interested in casual sex.

Interesting stuff. I think it’s pretty foolish for guys to think that “casual sex” conveys what they meant, but I’m sure they were sincere in their intentions. Which brings us full-circle to one of my more popular credos: “men look for sex and find love”.

The article continues, “I ended up dating three men during this time for 3-6 months each. We did “couple-y” things like go to the movies, make dinner, and spend weekends together. We weren’t meeting up for quickies as some people might assume. There was intimacy and affection and shared confidences. There just wasn’t exclusivity or expressed commitment. I wasn’t seeking “just” sex, so adding casual sex as a relationship choice actually worked to my advantage. It exposed me–in various ways–to a broader audience. One that I may not have been exposed to had I been a “good girl” and listened to my well-meaning male friends and only selected short and long-term dating.”

To sum up – are you more likely to attract pervs if you check off casual sex? Yep. Are you more likely to meet guys who aren’t in the place for a serious relationship? Sure. Are you more likely to find your knight in shining armor if you click “marriage” and nothing else? Probably. But it’s wrong to assume that every guy who is interested in casual sex is not husband potential. If you understand that, like the author did, it can be a valuable way to potentially expand your options – knowing that some men are just looking for fun…until they fall in love. High risk/high reward.

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  1. 1

    I didn’t read that carefully, so I might’ve missed it in the article, but would the author not have met these fellows if she hadn’t checked the “casual sex” box?   That is, were the guys she dated as a result of checking the box specifically not looking for a STR/LTR (they had not checked the STR/LTR box), as well as casual sex?

  2. 2

    When I joined OKC back in the day, it was right after a very bad dating experience that left me shaken. So, quite honestly, I added a note at the end of my profile: “I am not ready for a long-term relationship right now.” A lot of new people started writing. I met some really cool people that wrote to me after seeing this. Some of them are still my friends. OTOH, my boyfriend almost DID NOT contact me after seeing this little note. I guess my profile, that I had written using FTOO, was so amazing that he decided to give me the benefit of the doubt and contact me. But he asked me about it almost right away. So at the end of the day, I expanded my options, but came thisclose to never meeting the man that I now have a very happy relationship with. Had I checked casual sex, I probably wouldn’t have met him at all. Just my personal experience, YMMV, like they say. Also, from my brief dating experience, even if a guy has LTR and marriage as his long-term goal, he won’t say no to casual sex, so I don’t see the need to specifically check what’s already obvious. (I see that the article mentions this, although not in a good way.)
    As for the article, something caught my attention when I was looking through it. The article starts with:
    “After a six-month relationship with a man I met on OKCupid ended, I took a brief break. When I came back I decided to shake things up a bit.”
    And towards the end, says this:
    “Another observation I had was that a lot of the men contacting me during this time were in transitional phases of their lives. There were a number of couch surfers, recently divorced/separated guys and newly single types seeking women who might be, as the kids say, “DTF.” I didn’t want to be anybody’s “get over the hump” hump. If they admitted in their profile or in messages that they were newly single I didn’t engage further. I made sure I traded enough emails to discern what their relationship/living situation was. I was not interested in being a rest stop for some OKCupid hobo.”
    I’m confused here. So, it is okay for Moxie to be newly single and to “shake things up a little” because of that, but that very same thing is not okay for the guy? Don’t get me wrong, it’s all good and well that she doesn’t want to be a guy’s rest stop, but then why would he want to be hers? How bout a little reciprocity over here? Then again, as I understand from my brief, long-ago stay on Moxie’s blog, she and I are very different people and our thinking goes down completely different paths, so I guess I’m not surprised that I do not get this approach.

  3. 3

    All of the men I mentioned in the article checked off short term dating, long term dating and casual sex. As did I. I would never contact or respond to anyone who only selected casual sex.
    I have no idea if I would have met these men otherwise. I didn’t really think about that. That seems like a recipe for disaster. Suffice to say that they weren’t just looking for a ONS. If they were, they didn’t opt for that with me.

  4. 4
    Jackie H.

    Honesty is always the best policy, but you must be willing to accept the consequences of your honesty…

  5. 5

    The difference is that I didn’t *tell* these men I was just out of a relationship. I intentionally avoided anybody who announced that in their profile or initial emails, because that’s a discreet way of saying that they’re just looking to get laid and nothing more. That’s why I crossed them of the list. If a man comes out and tells a woman he’s newly single, he’s telling her that she should have extremely low expectations. I don’t go out with those men.

  6. 6

    I can’t imagine clicking on the casual sex button.   I have never searched for casual sex not even once in my life. It seems that’s all men are looking for, and why would I put myself into that category if that’s NOT what I’m about?   Seems like lying to me.

  7. 7

    A few quotes from guys in the article got a strong reaction from me, specifically this one:
    “…Another said he did it so that women would understand that he would not date someone for too long without sex being part of the equation….”
    That one made me think a few things: 1. Well..y’know what sir I won’t date someone too long without the potential for a real relationship being a part of the equation. That means there won’t be any sex until I’m confident there is AT LEAST potential, and I won’t have a hint of that possibility until weeks of dating have allowed me to observe the man’s behavior.   Is he consistent? Is he making plans with me often? etc. etc.   THAT is the point where I’ll decide to have sex with him, but prior to that, I won’t do anything more than kissing and then going home to masturbate while fantasizing about how great it will be to sleep with him finally once he’s proven he’s worth getting involved with sexually.  
    2. What is too long exactly? I know guys have some internal sense of how long is too long, but I suspect they know that if you were to actually verbalize what that is to a girl they’d come off like a scum bag for setting a time frame for when a girl is supposed to put out especially if he KNOWS he doesn’t see himself being with her long term. To me, its only justified with a woman he knows he wants to be with and can assure that even if things don’t pan out for one reason or another, that his INTENT is to make it last. Then it’s understandable to get upset that a girl is making you wait too long.

  8. 8

    My only problem with this advice- “the difference between a player and a guy who commits is you”- is that it plays into a woman’s delusional belief that she can “fix” a bad boy. We all know that bad boys are and always will be selfish, even if they do marry eventually. Saying that a guy looking for casual sex is really a good guy who will act on his selfish tendencies until the “right” woman comes along is misleading to women. It makes them invest in these dbags with the hope that they’ll change for her once they see how amazing she is. So women try their hardest to be the “right” one, but we all know that’s a futile effort because bad boys/players/assholes rarely-if ever-change, and if they do, it’s usually not because of a woman. So if I can disagree on this one, I think men who are actively looking for casual sex are too selfish and are definitely not husband material. At least not for me.  

  9. 9

    @ Moxie #5: I see now. This makes sense! Thanks for responding.

  10. 10

    A woman I recently had a couple of dates with from Plenty Of Fish who’s profile intent said “looking for a relationship” told me she was thinking of changing the intent to “wants to date but nothing serious” and I told her don’t even bother it wouldn’t matter that much because most guys could care less. If they like your picture they’re going to email you for the most part. You have to “date” BEFORE you decide you’re in  a relationship anyway so most men really don’t care and we have nothing to lose.           Ya know why? We’re MEN! 🙂

  11. 11

    Interesting article.   In most circumstances widening the net is a good idea because it increases your options.   I’m glad it worked for you, Moxie.   Casual sex doesn’t mean only ONS or FB type situations.   To me it means exactly what it says…sex which is without commitment and expectation.   You can do couple-y things but the point of the relationship is that there isn’t one.   You owe one another nothing beyond a good time, in bed (and outside if you so choose).   I would argue that while the article presented some interesting points of view, there wasn’t anything particularly revealing.
    >> If a man comes out and tells a woman he’s newly single, he’s telling her that she should have extremely low expectations.
    Or maybe he’s just being honest?   Not looking to engage you in a battle here…just genuinely curious.   Has it been your experience that all men who announce that they are newly single expect you to read the “I’m not looking for anything serious” subtext?

  12. 12

    You make a very good distinction about this kind of disclosure. Yes, I think if a person offers that information, they are trying to say something without actually saying it.   If someone writes in their dating profile that they’re newly single, they’re setting up certain expectations. It’s the fact that they announce it that is the signal, not their status itself.

  13. 13

    @ Goldie # 2
    Thanks for sharing your story.   I think you are very fortunate that your boyfriend decided to contact you in spite of his misgivings, he was able to see past that “I am not ready for a long term relationship right now” and contact you.
    About four years ago I tried online dating for the first time.   At that time I did not have any preconceived notions about what it would be like or what to expect.   Because I didn’t have any expectations, I felt like the belle of the ball.   I am sure that the twenty and thirty something crowd gets many, many, many times the emails I did but since I had nothing to compare it to I felt great.   It was so much fun.   
    Here’s the thing – I have a daughter Isabelle who is disabled.   I didn’t write about Isabelle in my profile.   I didn’t feel that this was dishonest because I wanted some small piece of my life that was just for me, some small part of the world where I didn’t exist solely as “Isabelle’s Mom”.   
    So in my profile I wrote, “I am looking for a monogamous relationship that does not involve marriage or cohabitation.”   I wanted to deliberately weed out those men who might be looking for a wife or partner because I knew I couldn’t be that.   (This tactic didn’t work as well as I thought it would.)   I was surprised at the number of men who wrote to me and tried to warn me that I should remove that part because other men who just wanted to use me would contact me.
    But the “bad” guys didn’t show up.   Dating was a blast.   I didn’t meet any creeps.   I met guys who made me think and laugh.   I went to dinner, dancing, movies, and many other great dates.   I was just so thrilled to be out and around other people.   That these people were kind, thoughtful, attentive men made it even better.   Dating had never been this much fun, even when I was twenty.
    So I dated for a few months (until my saving ran out and I could no longer afford to pay for caregivers) then I went back to the way things had been before.
    Things in my life have changed.   When I go back online I will NOT be looking to weed out men looking for something long term.   I won’t ever be checking the “casual sex” box (if in fact I go on OKCupid).   I got that the writer had fun with “shaking things up” but I don’t want to “shake things up” that much.

  14. 14

    Sometimes men look for sex and find love, but I think, more often, men look for love and find love…eventually. EMK has said that, even though he dated many women before meeting his wife, he was always looking for true love. Even if each relationship a man   – or woman – has doesn’t end up going long-term, the desire for long-term needs to be there. Otherwise, you do end up with guys in transition, cubs looking for a cougar, and men who, while they might be decent sorts, just don’t want a serious relationship.
    OKC also has a “short term relationship” button. In Moxie’s case, none of the men she dated turned into anything more serious, but it’s interesting that the structure of these relationships, in which she ” did “couple-y” things like go to the movies, make dinner, and spend weekends together, along with “intimacy and affection and shared confidences,” seems very similar to an actual relationship. To me, these relationships would fall more under the header of “STR”, rather than casual sex. So since these men had also checked off short term dating, then I think her results would have been the same if she’d left “casual sex” off.

  15. 15

    “why would I put myself into that category if that’s NOT what I’m about?   Seems like lying to me.”
    It is lying. And no love can develop from lies. Truth opens the door for love to enter.

  16. 16

    Amanda #8
    “I think men who are actively looking for casual sex are too selfish and are definitely not husband material”
    I’m a bit bemused that you think guys who look for casual sex are selfish whilst simultaneously thinking that you are some sort of philanthropist serving the good of others with no benefit to you. Come on – women are out for their own needs too. Women want sex too, and love, and support, and intellectual stimulation and…whatever else you want from a man. Just because you look for love first and sex second doesn’t make you any better, or indeed a better marriage prospect.
    There is a difference between guys who look for casual sex and dbags – no-one is asking you to date dbags with the hope that they’ll change for you. In fact Evan advocates upping your game to identify these guys early and then ditch them.
    “So women try their hardest to be the right one”
    As you said yourself this is futile — once you’re trying, you’re losing.
    As Evan said going down the casual route is a high risk/high reward game. If you can differentiate between good guys who look for casual sex and dbags you might be well rewarded.

  17. 17

    An interesting topic, an interesting blog on here, no doubt. There are always a provocation and a lot of different talks and i like it.
    I agree with big part of Tom10 #16. The only thing i do not agree… ‘high risk’ doesn’t always mean ‘high reward’.

  18. 18

    @Lia 13
    Thank you for sharing your story.   I’m so happy you had that wonderful dating experience – bravo you.   All the best with whatever life brings.
    @1, 2 & 3
    WAH, acronym attack people…
    and possibly ATWY?
    Evan is so very articulate and he tends to attract commenters of the same ilk, but folks please don’t assume people know what you mean when you use these acronyms (if that’s even the correct term for them).   It’s freakin’ annoying when I can’t work out WTF you’re saying in an otherwise beautifully written comment (…yes I know, I did it on purpose)
    Yours in mock outrage,

  19. 19

    There is a difference between selfcare and selfish.
    If a man is telling you he is happy to have causal sex, LISTEN he is letting you know that he is happy to use a womans body as an object for his own instant self gratification with no regard for the woman as a whole person. That is a selfish attitude.
    He is telling you loud and clear happy to use your body if you willing to allow it. If you want the same and are happy to have your body used and or use his without knowing each other then no problem. You are a match.
    Most women however are not hormonally and biologically able to do this and will end up with a broken heart etc. as they are not able to compartmentalize sex.
    If however you want a mutual fulfilling loving relationship, then casual sex is not a good bet to get you what you want.   When a woman says no to casual sex she is declining having her body used in that way as she values and cares about   herself as a whole person wanting to take care of her body and heart and is able to wait and delay instant sexual gratification and get to find out about a mans character over time, choosing and holding out for   someone who is of good character and relationship’ husband material who doesn’t want to use and objectify women in this way.
    Personally it feels best to me to get to know the real man over time before I get to know his manhood. Who he really is on the inside. how does he treat women   Not what job he does, status, what car he drives, how hot he looks. And this takes time for their true selves and true intent to show.
    If casual sex with a hot looking man or woman is what BOTH people want then that is what they want, both people are a match and happy in that area.
    If both people want more than casual sex then getting to know the person first to see if you are compatible on inner core values will get you a better match for happy loving relationship.
    One thing for sure though is lying about what you really want will not bring happiness or love.
    There is no love with lies.
    If a man used to want and have casual sex but now has emotionally matured to be in a place where he no longer wants or is interested in casual sex. That is different. But he has to be in that place before you have sex with him if that is where as a woman you are already at. If as a woman you want more, choose someone who wants the same and is able.
    If he is still ticking a casual sex box, that is where he is at and what he is ok with. And as we all know you can’t change anyone else. So you then have to decide is that where you are at and what you are ok with? Are you a match in that very important area?

  20. 20

    In my understanding, casual sex means using people for sex, so what kind of character does a person need to have to actively seek out casual sex? Selfish and self-serving for sure. Yes, women love sex too, but sex for a woman most often means something more than just physical. Women typically don’t have sex with men they don’t want to be emotionally close to. Even if a woman wants to have a little fun, sooner or later, she’s likely to want a commitment from the man she’s sleeping with. Men who sleep with women casually simply don’t care enough about that. Why would they when they justify casual sex by saying “oh well women want sex too, so I’m not an asshole.” Just consider for a minute what feeling used feels like. It’s obvious most men don’t care enough to take a time out and think about that, and men who don’t care how their actions affect others are dbags.  

    1. 20.1

      Ok so why is it acceptable if a woman withholds sex even when her partner is killing them self to provide monetarily emotionally psychologically, etc. Why does the man become the evil selfish a-hole for having his own needs. Women think that physical takes a backseat to emotion based on what? You have no idea what it is like to be conditioned by millions of years of evolution to be dependent on the touch of another for affirmation of your own self worth. If a man were to withhold Romance, emotion, money, gifts, or any of your requirements due to a lack of sex, unfulfilled desire or any other thing that we require we are considered monsters. In reality this is just Your conscience projecting your own guilt onto him so you don’t have to compromise or admit to the world your own selfish motives. You cannot demand equality and still be treated as dependents. If you are so out of touch with reality that you believe one need is any more important than another then you have no business in a relationship anyhow.

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